Neftali Feliz placed on 15-day DL
Though the injury isn't considered serious, it further taxes a Rangers bullpen that doesn't appear to have a clear-cut candidate to replace Feliz.
Feliz said he first started feeling tightness behind his shoulder before a series against the New York Yankees, and pitching in the cold weather at Yankee Stadium made it worse. Feliz cannot release his arm as he would like, and the Rangers front office decided Friday night to shut him down. This is the first career DL stint for Feliz.
"I don't feel good about it," he said, "but I know that it is good for me and it's the best for me to take a couple of weeks. It's a long season."
General manager Jon Daniels stressed the precautionary aspect of the move.
"If he was 33 instead of 23 we may treat it a little differently," Daniels said, "but given his age and what he means to the club we're going to play this one on the safe side. We could have very easily given him a couple of days off and seen how this goes. We don't want to take any chances here."
Feliz had started the season strong, with five saves in five opportunities, and a 1.08 ERA. Rangers manager Ron Washington must now maneuver through most of the club's current stretch of 20 consecutive games without one of baseball's premier closers.
Washington plans to take the "committee" approach in filling for Feliz for the next two weeks. He said he'll lean on his veterans, with 40-year-old lefties Darren Oliver and Arthur Rhodes headlining that list, but Washington also listed every other member of the bullpen as options.
"Whoever gets the ball in the ninth inning," Washington said, "we'll do what we have to do by committee. Whoever is down there, we'll do what we have to do to close it out."
Washington added that "through the process, maybe someone will step up."
Rhodes is the most logical option based on experience with 32 career saves. He had a high of nine in 2004, but last saved a game in 2008. Oliver has three saves during his 18-year career. Right-hander Darren O'Day has two.
Both Rhodes and Oliver insisted that they'll approach closing chances no different than pitching in the seventh or eighth innings. The rest of the bullpen includes Dave Bush, Pedro Strop, Brett Tomko and rookie Cody Eppley, who was called up from Triple-A Round Rock to take Feliz's spot on the active roster.
The bullpen as a whole has struggled recently. Texas relievers had allowed 16 earned runs over the past 20 2/3 innings in nine games, causing their ERA to rise from 2.13 to 4.30. Washington has reason to be concerned about holding leads with the game on the line.
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"We've got no bona fide closer right now," he said. "It's that simple. We're not going to go run and hide."
To make room on the 25-man roster for Eppley, the Rangers recalled right-hander Eric Hurley from Round Rock and put him on the 60-day disabled list.
Hurley has a mild concussion and a small fracture after being struck on the right side of a head by a one-hop comebacker Monday. He was on Round Rock's DL, and the Rangers still don't know when the former first-round pick will be able to resume baseball activities.
Art Garcia is a contributor to ESPNDallas.com. Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.
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